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April 9, 2012 Published in Arts & Style, Other News

Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You At MetroStage

Jay Alvarez (Courtesy photo)

By: Erin DeCaprio

In the span of about 60 minutes, Jorge “Jay” Alvarez takes the audience on a journey across 60 years, 250 miles and a spectrum of emotion as he tells the story of his family’s dramatic escape from Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the early 1960s. A mixture of Cuban history, family folklore, and personal memories come together in a mesmerizing one-man show that educates and moves the audience in a way that feels both political and personal. Alvarez takes us from the exuberance of 1950s Havana cabarets society, through the uncertainty of the revolution, to the heartbreak of a family torn apart and the triumph of their ultimate survival.  The beauty and power of the story shines brightly through the minimalist presentation. Two chairs on a black stage and props that fit in the pockets of Alvarez’ cargo pants are the extent of the set design, while lighting and sound fill in what few gaps in atmosphere are left by Alvarez’ masterful performance, where a subtle adjustment of his posture instantly and seamlessly transforms time, place and character.  The emotion of the piece is clearly genuine and truly touching, especially when Alvarez assumes the roles of his parents,  “on whose shoulders I stand.”  MetroStage is the perfect venue for the intimacy of the show, where the audience feels the intensity of crowding into that little boat, heading out on a moonless night into the unknown Caribbean Sea, inspired by the unbreakable bonds of family and irrepressible desire for freedom that motivates Humberto and Chiqui to risk everything.  The love and appreciation that Alvarez clearly feels for his family, and the pride he has in both his Cuban and American roots is palpable throughout the show and after, as he meets with the audience over mojitos to continue sharing his remarkable story. It’s outstanding performance by an extraordinary artist.

The show will be running through April 22. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 5 and 8, and Sundays at 3 and 7.

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